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A Mixed-Method Approach to Studying Popular Support for Democracy and Authoritarianism in Post-Soviet Countries

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By: Published: 2019 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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Abstract

This case study describes a multi-country and multi-method research project studying public support for democracy and authoritarianism in four post-Soviet countries: Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Latvia. By combining principles of case selection based on national and subnational variation among states and their populations, the project seeks to understand the historical and contemporary cultural and economic forces that have led many post-Soviet citizens to be highly skeptical of democracy and somewhat supportive of authoritarian rule. Qualitative field interviews across each country with ordinary citizens allowed me to develop, refine, and pre-test questions that would eventually be used in nationally representative large-n surveys. Furthermore, this qualitative data provided crucial context, depth, and texture to quantitative survey results. Representative surveys—designed, administered, and analyzed with current survey methods—allowed for generalization of findings across the cases under study and beyond. However, several practical challenges to funding and fielding major surveys make it difficult to carry out survey research in foreign countries, necessitating a good dose of patience and persistence. Similarly, qualitative field interviews—while less expensive than surveys—nonetheless come with their own logistical challenges, several of which are addressed throughout the case study. Nonetheless, when these challenges can be overcome, the combination of quantitative and qualitative methods yield far richer—and arguably more robust—findings on mass political beliefs and preferences.

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